Tag Archives: Karsh Kale

Artist Profiles: Karsh Kale

Karsh Kale

Tabla Player, Drummer, Producer, Composer, Remix Artist and D.J. Karsh Kale combines the music of ancient India and cutting edge electronica. His solo work is an expedition into the uncharted sound of South Asian America. Being an Indian born in the U.K and brought up in the United States the fundamentals of jazz, rock, hip hop and modern electronica play as much a role in Kale’s style as Indian classical and folk music does.

It is this amalgam of sound that is Kale’s trademark “Classical Science Fiction From India… The Urban Raag”. Numerous artists from all over the world have employed Karsh’s hybridized styles. In a few short years Karsh has worked and performed with artists such as Bill Laswell, Sting, Paula Cole, Hassan Hakmoun, Sussan Deyhim, Gigi, Talvin Singh, Ustad Nishat Khan, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Ustad Sultan Khan, Arto Lindsay, Will Calhoun, Rakesh Chaurasia, Ramesh Misra, Clevland Watkiss, Shankar Mahadevan, Jojo Meyer and many others.

Karsh Kale – Photo by Suraj Warrier

Karsh’s Bi-weekly event Futureproof finds him pleasing the New York City underground with his DJ and live electric tabla sets. Indian classical dub drum and bass jungle reggae and ambient influences come together to create the Futureproof aesthetic. The event features a live band led by Kale which has been recognized as one of the leading live drum and bass events in New York.

Karsh has transplanted his sound to other arenas as well. He has produced remixes for artists ranging from Paula Cole to DJ Spooky and can be heard performing on works by Sussan Deyhim, Talvin Singh, Amel Larrouex, DJ Logic and Ming & FS. He has composed scored and performed for film theatre and television including works for Paramount NBC and Seneca Falls. The breadth of Karsh’s performance abilities is wide. In addition to performing on both drum kit and electric tabla in Europe and Canada he has toured the country with DJ Spooky and EBN.

Karsh Kale

Aware of the effect of live music as well as DJing Karsh has performed at many festivals. In 2002 Kale visited Paris performing alongside Iranian vocalist Sussan Deyhim and did a string of dates with the breakbeat jam band Sound Tribe Sector 9.

In 2011 Karsh Kale released Cinema his fifth and most ambitious album to date. Kale’s forays into scoring films for India’s growing Bollywood film industry provided the greatest influence to hisusual palette of progressive electro-rock and Indian classical music. In the two years of writing the album on piano and guitar Karsh challenged himself to write songs with a Western ear, further blurring the boundaries between rock world and electronic music.

Discography:

Realize ( Six Degrees Records, 2001)
Redesign: Realize Remixed ( Six Degrees Records, 2002)
Liberation ( Six Degrees Records, 2003)
Broken English ( Six Degrees Records, 2006)
Breathing Under Water, with Anoushka Shankar ( Manhattan Records, 2007)
Cinema ( Six Degrees Records, 2010)
UP (Six Degrees Records, 2016)

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“I see myself as a world citizen” – Asian Underground Pioneer Karsh Kale

Award-winning musician and composer Karsh Kale performed in India recently for the launch of the Art Bangalore Festival. The British-born, New York City-raised producer and multi-instrumentalist of Indian heritage has released a string of albums: Realize, Liberation, Breathing Under Water, Up, and The Matrix (by Tabla Beat Science, co-founded by Bill Laswell).

 

Karsh Kale - Up
Karsh Kale – Up (2016)

 

Karsh is one of the pioneers of the ‘Asian Underground’ genre, mixing Indian classical and folk music along with electronica and ambient music. He has conducted masterclasses on his musical journey, and cites groups ranging from Shakti to Led Zeppelin as musical influences. He has collaborated with Anoushka Shankar, Zakir Hussain, Sting, Norah Jones, Warren Mendonsa (nephew of Bollywood composer Loy Mendonsa), and a range of other artists.

Karsh sees India as ripe for experimentation with a range of sounds and a globally-exposed youth.  His set in Bangalore was a heady mix of tablas, vocals, Carnatic flute, percussion and electric guitar. Karsh joins us in this interview, conducted just before his set, on his musical style, journey and message.

Q: It has been 15 years since your first album ‘Realise’ was released. Where do you see yourself headed in your artistic journey?

I have expanded my scope into films – music scores and script-writing. I continue to try out new technologies in the area of music and performance – such as virtual reality (VR)!

 

Karsh Kale - Realize
Karsh Kale – Realize

 

Q: How do you manage to do ‘fusion without confusion’ – blending so many styles and genres and yet coming across so coherent and creative!

It is important to have a palette of different experiences, but not just dabble in a range of styles. I have studied these different forms very hard, and that makes the flow and fusion easier.

I have communicated and connected with people from different walks of life, and that makes it easier to collaborate and fuse. My music comes across as natural and not ‘conceptual.’ For example, when I am blending thumri with electronica, the song is happening and playing in my head.

 

 

Q: How do you see the role of technology tools in changing music?

I use a range of tools, but at the same time I also spend time away from the computer, playing with acoustic guitars for example.

Tools are great, but one must go beyond the software palette as well! I have also played with others on acoustic instruments such as the kora.

 

 

Q: What are some of your next albums and collaborations?

I am working on an album with Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan, sons of sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and stars in their own right.

Q: What are some of your favorite festivals to play at?

I have played in a range of festivals around the world, such as Glastonbury and NH7 – but Burning Man really stands out!

I have played there three times. The audience, energy, format – everything is amazing, the effect it has on you as soon as you get there is incredible. The entire system is different – you barter things, you share. It feels like another planet!

 

 

Q: Some of your more unusual collaborations have been with Chinese musician Sa Dingding. Tell us what that was like!

Yes, that was very different. I got a call once from Universal China to collaborate with her, and next thing I knew I was in Beijing, sitting next to her at a piano! We didn’t speak each other’s languages, but the music emerged as we played.

I did some research on Chinese classical music and pop, and the album featured elements of Indian classical music, Chinese pop, electronica and other contemporary sound. The sound engineer did help with some translation as well.

Q: What can we look forward to at your performance and lineup tonight?

I will play a mix of old and new material. There will be great visual displays and effects too. I don’t have a fixed band but a collective with shifting and evolving lineups, like a revolving door. For example, during my performance in Toronto last week, I played with half my New York band and half my India band.

 

Karsh Kale band at the Art Bangalore Festival 2016 - Photo by Madanmohan Rao
Karsh Kale band at the Art Bangalore Festival 2016 – Photo by Madanmohan Rao

 

Q: What is your message to the audience?

I want the audience to create their own message, by the way my music unleashes their imagination. From Mexico to Poland, I want my audiences to connect to my music from their own contexts.

I see myself a world citizen, and want to make the world a smaller and hopefully better place.

Additional Photos of Karsh Kale and his band at the Art Bangalore Festival 2016:

 

Karsh Kale in Bangalore 2016 - Photo by Madanmohan Rao
Karsh Kale at the Art Bangalore Festival 2016 – Photo by Madanmohan Rao

 

Karsh Kale band at the Art Bangalore Festival 2016 - Photo by Madanmohan Rao
Karsh Kale band at the Art Bangalore Festival 2016 – Photo by Madanmohan Rao

 

Karsh Kale band at the Art Bangalore Festival 2016 - Photo by Madanmohan Rao
Karsh Kale band at the Art Bangalore Festival 2016 – Photo by Madanmohan Rao

 

Karsh Kale band at the Art Bangalore Festival 2016 - Photo by Madanmohan Rao
Karsh Kale band at the Art Bangalore Festival 2016 – Photo by Madanmohan Rao

 

Karsh Kale band at the Art Bangalore Festival 2016 - Photo by Madanmohan Rao
Karsh Kale band at the Art Bangalore Festival 2016 – Photo by Madanmohan Rao

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